Free washing machine |  Make way for the rookie tournament!

Free washing machine | Make way for the rookie tournament!

“If we had been based solely on the rookie tournament, Jesperi Kotkaniemi would never have beaten our usual team this year.”

Posted at 9:45 am

Mathias Brunett

Mathias Brunett

This was said by coach Claude Julien, after confirming the young Finn’s place in his team for the opening match, in October 2018.

The Canadian had sent a very weak formation to this rookie tournament. Kotkaniemi began the competition at center Alexandre Alain and Allan McShane against the experienced young Ottawa Senators, with six players appearing in NHL games. The defeat had been embarrassing for Kotkaniemi, overwhelmed by events in his first steps in North America, and for the Canadian recruits.

That didn’t stop this Finnish wimp from surprising in training camp and deserving, to everyone’s surprise, a place in the team despite his 18 years.

The result left a bitter taste for Canadian fans. Kotkaniemi has never been able to replicate the 34 points from his rookie year and now plays for Carolina. But Kotkaniemi’s experience in his first rookie tournament gives us some perspective on this famous tournament.

An 18-year-old unable to keep up with rival rookies managed to become an NL player in just a few weeks.

We could also take Nick Suzuki as an example. Ordinary in this tournament in 2019, but from the CH starting eleven a month later. The opposite is also true. Some shone there, before fading in NL prep games.

The current rookies underwent medicals Wednesday morning before heading to Buffalo for the tournament.

Obviously, we want to see the most recent No. 1 overall draft pick Juraj Slafkovsky shine there, but in his head, as in the heads of the team, his performances in actual preseason games will prove everything.

Slafkovsky, like Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris, Justin Barron and Mattias Norlinder, the four young defensemen in the hunt for two available defensive spots with the Canadiens, will be invited to training camp regardless of their performances in the rookie tournament at buffalo.

Filip Mesar, Joshua Roy, Emil Heineman, Jan Mysak, Brett Stapley, Arber Xhekaj and Gianni Fairbrother will all be entitled to the same privilege, barring a total disaster.

The opportunity will be good, however, for some younger or less valued signings, such as Owen Beck, Cédrick Guindon, Riley Kidney, Xavier Simoneau, William Trudeau or Miguël Tourigny, to leave a nice visiting card.

For top rookies, this tournament can give them the impetus to enter camp with even greater confidence. Kotkaniemi was able to bounce back after a tough tournament, but others before him were unable to recover in time from disappointing performances against rival rookies.

The Canadian will have the advantage of presenting a leading formation in this tournament, one of the most solid in its recent history. Strong opposition was expected, including from the Sabers, early opponents, on Thursday night, but Buffalo prefers to do without two of its best hopes, defenseman Owen Power, the first overall pick in 2021, and end Jack Quinn, 61. points in 45 games last year. in the American League. One of their three first-round picks in 2022, Swedish center Noah Östlund, remains in Sweden, but at least we’ll get to see the other two, Matthew Savoie and Jiri Kulich, in action. His second first-round pick of 2021 behind Power, Isak Rosen, 14me in total, it will also be there.

The Ottawa Senators, CH’s opponents on Sunday at noon, will field a more interesting lineup, featuring top defensive prospect Jake Sanderson, the fifth overall pick in 2020, center Shane Pinto, a regular center in Ottawa at the start of last season. before suffering a serious injury, and goalkeeper Mads Sogaard, a starter in the American League and remembering the time of two games in the NHL.

First-round picks from the past two years, Tyler Boucher, Zack Ostapchuk and Ridly Greig, a valuable defensive center at the most recent World Junior Championships, will also be there.

The New Jersey Devils, opponents on Friday night, have yet to announce their roster, but we should expect to see Slafkovsky’s compatriot, second overall defenseman Simon Nemec, and possibly also Alexander Holtz, seventh overall pick in 2020, nearly a point. per game in the American League last winter. Defenseman Luke Hughes, a fourth overall pick in 2021, remains in the NCAA.

The matches will be broadcast on the Canadiens website and its various platforms, with the excellent Sébastien Goulet, from TVA Sports, in the description.


  • Thursday, September 15: Buffalo v. Montréal, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, September 16: Montreal vs. New Jersey, 7 p.m.
  • Sunday September 18: Ottawa v. Montréal, 12:00 p.m.

There are not many goalkeepers


Joe Vrbetic

Because he already has three professional seasons behind him in the playoffs, not counting his 18 NHL games, Cayden Primeau is no longer considered a rookie, per the tournament’s unofficial rules. Instead, the Canadiens will send 19-year-old giant Joe Vrbetic, a 2021 seventh-round pick who played with North Bay of the Ontario Junior League last season. He will be joined by two guest goaltenders from the QMJHL, Antoine Coulombe, 20, of the Shawinigan Cataractes, and Riley Mercer, 18, of the Drummondville Voltigeurs.

Two of the organization’s top prospects at this position, Jakub Dobes and Frederik Dichow, remain on their respective circuits. The 21-year-old Dobes, a finalist for last year’s Mike Richter Trophy for quintessential college goaltender, will begin his second season at Ohio State in the NCAA. Dichow, also 21, will play for Frölunda, in the Swedish Elite League (SEL), after his participation in the Olympic Games and the World Championship with Denmark. CH’s most recent choice as goalkeeper, Emmett Croteau (6me round, 2022), has just joined Clarkson, in the NCAA.

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